WBEZ | Chicago schools http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-schools Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Karen Lewis hands over leadership of Chicago Teachers Union http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-hands-over-leadership-chicago-teachers-union-110919 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/620-lewis_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is suffering from an undisclosed &ldquo;serious illness&rdquo; and will step aside as head of the organization, the union&rsquo;s vice president announced Thursday.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s still no word on how that might affect a possible mayoral run against Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>At a press conference late Thursday afternoon, Vice President Jesse Sharkey announced that Lewis underwent a successful surgery on Wednesday, but declined to name Lewis&rsquo; condition, citing her family&rsquo;s privacy.</p><p>Lewis, 61, has been seriously considering a run for mayor. Sharkey said he will take over Lewis&rsquo; duties at the CTU, but wouldn&rsquo;t get into the possible political impact of Lewis&rsquo; health.</p><p>&ldquo;I understand that many people in this room and many people in the city want to know about Karen Lewis&rsquo;s health status because they care about the mayoral election in this city,&rdquo; Sharkey told reporters. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a question that I can&rsquo;t answer.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis was hospitalized Sunday night after experiencing discomfort, but the union and representatives with her exploratory campaign refused to say why or give any details on the status of her condition.<br /><br />On Monday, CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said in a statement that she was &ldquo;in good spirits--and still thinking of creative ways to secure the future and city our students and their families deserve.&rdquo;<br /><br />On Wednesday night, a spokeswoman for Lewis&rsquo; mayoral exploratory committee declined to comment on the details of Lewis&rsquo;condition, but said the &ldquo;exploratory process is moving forward.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite contentious relations in the past, Emanuel praised Lewis late Thursday afternoon in an emailed statement, though he steered clear of mentioning politics.</p><p>&ldquo;Karen Lewis is a passionate advocate for her beliefs and has always been willing to speak up for her view of what&#39;s best -- not only for the teachers that she represents, but also for issues critical to the future of our city,&quot; Emanuel was quoted as saying. &quot;Along with all Chicagoans, we will keep Karen and her family in our thoughts and prayers, and we hope to see her on her feet very soon.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis has not officially announced whether she plans to challenge Emanuel in February&rsquo;s city election. But there has been widespread speculation and encouragement from some progressives for her to run.</p><p>In recent weeks, the once-fiery critic of Emanuel who led Chicago teachers on their first strike in 25 years has sought to rebrand herself as a consensus-builder, holding several community events around the city dubbed &ldquo;Conversations with Karen.&rdquo; Lewis has also started fundraising for a possible campaign, though she has conceded it will be difficult to top Emanuel&rsquo;s political machine, which has already netted him at least $8.3 million for his re-election bid.</p><p>Mayoral candidates have until Nov. 24 to file their nominating papers in order to get on the ballot for the Feb. 24 election. Emanuel already faces several declared challengers, including his vocal critic in the City Council, Ald. Bob Fioretti; Dr. Amara Enyia, an urban development consultant; former Chicago Ald. Robert Shaw; Chicago police officer Frederick Collins; and conservative activist William J. Kelly.</p><p>&quot;She is a fighter and I know that she will bounce back, stronger than ever,&quot; Fioretti said of Lewis in an emailed statement. &quot;Her voice adds to the debate in Chicago and we all get better results when there is a full and spirited dialogue.&nbsp; But right now, we should all respect Karen&rsquo;s privacy and give her the space she needs to get better.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><em>WBEZ political reporter Alex Keefe contributed to this story.</em></p><p><o:p></o:p></p></p> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-hands-over-leadership-chicago-teachers-union-110919 CPS approves seven new charter schools http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/BoardOfEd1_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Board of Education voted Wednesday afternoon to approve seven new charter schools.</p><p>The controversial move comes less than a year after board members voted to close 50 traditional public schools for low enrollment.</p><p>Board members followed district officials&rsquo; recommendations, made public for the first time at the meeting Wednesday, and approved charters for the following schools:</p><ul><li><strong>Great Lakes Academy Charter School</strong> (location TBD in South Shore, serving grades 1-2 in 2014, eventually serving 576 students grades K-8). Approved 5-1, with board member Carlos Azcoitia voting no.</li><li><strong>Noble Street Charter School- ITW David Speer Campus</strong> (To be permanently located at 5321 W. Grand Ave. in Belmont-Cragin, serving grade 9 in 2014 and eventually serving 900 students in grades 9-12. This will be the 15th Noble Street campus in Chicago). Approved 6-0.</li></ul><p>Jack Elsey, CPS chief of innovation and incubation, said before the vote that the district wanted &nbsp;&ldquo;conditional approval&rdquo; for five of the seven campuses. The board followed those recommendations and gave &quot;conditional approval&quot; to five schools. That means, the board will vote again to determine if the conditions have been met.</p><p>For instance, Instrinsic Schools will have to post high academic marks at its first campus, which just opened in September 2013. Elsey said Intrinsic&rsquo;s first campus must obtain a Tier 1 or Tier 2 rating, the highest of five tiers, this year in order to open a second campus.&nbsp;</p><p>The idea of &quot;conditional approval&quot; is cloudy. In previous years, conditions were established in the writing of the charter&#39;s contract. In a departure from past practice, the board will vote again on these proposals and whether the conditions have been met before they are approved to open. Elsey said another vote will likely be held in May. The following schools recieved conditional approval yesterday:&nbsp;</p><ul><li><strong>Chicago Education Partnership</strong> (&ldquo;By the Hand&rdquo;) (K-6 campus to be located at 400 N. Leamington in Austin, grades 7-8 to be located at 415 N. Laramie in Austin. Opening in 2015, serving grades K-1. Eventually serving 810 students in grades K-8). Approved 5-1, with board member Carlos Azcoitia voting no.&nbsp;<em>Conditions: Chicago Education Partnership has to re-submit a portion of the initial application--dealing primarily with academics--in the next round of approvals.</em></li><li><strong>Concept Schools--Horizon Science Academy- Chatham Charter School</strong> (8522 S. Lafayette in Chatham, serving grades K-8 in 2014, eventually serving 725 students K-12. This will be Concept Schools&rsquo; third campus in Chicago). Approved 6-0.&nbsp;<em>Conditions: Concept must find principals for both campuses and submit clear facility plans.</em></li><li><strong>Concept Schools--Horizon Science Academy- Chicago Lawn Charter School </strong>(5401 S. Western in Gage Park, serving grades K-8 in 2014, eventually serving 725 students K-12. This will be Concept Schools&rsquo; fourth campus in Chicago). Approved 5-1, with board member Carlos Azcoitia voting no.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Intrinsic Charter School 2</strong> (temporarily located at 4540 W. Belmont in the Kilbourn Park neighborhood), eventually moving to a location TBD on the Northwest Side, opening fall 2015 with grade 9, eventually serving 959 students grades 7-12. This will be Intrinsic&rsquo;s second charter school in Chicago). Approved 6-0.&nbsp;<em>Conditions: Intrinsic&#39;s first campus must post high test scores this year. The school must also find a building and outline how it will evaluate school leaders.</em></li><li><strong>Noble Street Charter School- Noble Exeter Academy Campus</strong> (To be temporarily located at 17 N. State St. in the Loop, serving grade 9 in 2014 and eventually serving 900 students in grades 9-12. This will be the 16th Noble Street campus in Chicago. The network will be authorized to educate 13,875 students). Approved 4-2, with board members Carlos Azcoitia and Andrea Zopp voting no. <em>Conditions: Noble must submit more information about parent and community engagement and its curriculum, and must find a building and a principal.</em></li></ul><p>The school board considered a total of 17 proposals for new charter school campuses Wednesday. Five of them, the Connected Futures Academies, would have exclusively served dropouts.</p><p>District officials recommended that the school board deny the following charter proposals. They were voted down unanimously:</p><ul><li><strong>Be the Change Charter School</strong> (Location TBD in McKinley Park, serving grades K-2 in 2014, eventually serving 475 students grades K-8)</li><li><strong>Connected Futures Academies Options Charter Schools</strong> (five campuses, all TBD, each serving 165 re-enrolled drop-outs ages 15-21 in 2014).</li><li><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 1</strong> (location TBD but according to founder tentatively at 7939 S. Western in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood), serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</li><li><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 2 </strong>(location TBD but according to founder, tentatively at 87th and Kedzie in the Ashburn neighborhood), serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</li><li><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 3</strong> (location TBD, serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</li><li><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 4 </strong>(location TBD, serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8)</li></ul><p>State law now allows any charter school denied by a local district to appeal to the Illinois State Charter School Commission. Since its creation, the commission has overturned CPS decisions on two schools run by the politically connected group called Concept Schools.</p><p><strong>State appeals process adds new twist</strong></p><p>Several aldermen spoke Wednesday and asked the board not to approve any new schools this year or delay approvals until they could analyze the potential impact on the district&rsquo;s existing schools.</p><p>&ldquo;I encourage you to delay your decision today and undertake a real study of academic performance of charters and evaluate them together with a real master facilities plan,&rdquo; said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32rd).</p><p>But delaying a vote or denying all proposals this year could backfire on CPS.</p><p>The Illinois Charter School Commission can and already has overturned CPS decisions if it deems a charter proposal high quality.</p><p>Or as Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz put it Wednesday, &ldquo;If we don&rsquo;t, Springfield will.&rdquo;</p><p>Elsey, the district official, said schools that are approved by the state commission operate &ldquo;inside CPS boundaries, but outside of our control.&rdquo;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130922753&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;We lose the ability to hold these schools accountable and ensure they are delivering a high quality education to Chicago&rsquo;s children,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the union and CPS should team up to eliminate the commission. In an uncharacteristic agreement with the union, Board President David Vitale agreed.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130922506&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>But Greg Richmond, chair of the Illinois Charter School Commission, said the appeals process is nothing new. Charter applicants have been able to appeal local decisions to the state since the charter school law was passed in 1996. The Illinois State Board of Education used to deal with appeals, but in 2011, the commission was created to handle appeals.</p><p>Since the commission was created, Richmond says, they&#39;ve only overturned two local decisions.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Anyone looking at the numbers would say that this commission has not been overly generous,&quot; Richmond said.</p><p><strong>Will new charters help alleviate overcrowding?</strong></p><p>The most recent request for proposals for new charter schools asked that applicants look to open in areas that CPS officials deemed &ldquo;priority areas.&rdquo; These are neighborhoods where schools are overcrowded based on the district&rsquo;s utilization standards.</p><p>One board member, Carlos Azcoitia, voted down four of the seven schools that were ultimately approved for that very reason.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to target the schools that were overcrowded,&rdquo; Azcoitia said. &ldquo;Of course, we didn&rsquo;t want to go into areas where we had closed schools.&rdquo;<br /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130922299&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Andrea Zopp also said she &ldquo;struggles significantly&rdquo; with approving new schools in the wake of closing so many.</p><p>One school approved Wednesday that will be opening in a so-called &ldquo;priority area&rdquo; is the Noble Street-ITW David Speer Campus. CPS says the school will alleviate overcrowding at Taft High School.</p><p>Ald. Nick Sposato (36th), however, pointed out that Taft and the future Noble school would actually be miles apart.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re building a high school six and a half miles away from a crowded high school,&rdquo; Sposato said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand the thinking on that.&rdquo;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130922950&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Kerry Murphy, a parent of two children at Dever Elementary, said the community does not need more high schools. Its overcrowding issues are at the local grammar schools.</p><p>But CPS officials say demographic data indicate that many high school-aged students who live in the Belmont-Cragin area travel to Noble schools in other neighborhood.</p><p><strong>More new schools on the horizon&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Not all seven of the schools approved Wednesday will open in September. Two are planning to open in September 2015 and the ones with &quot;conditional approval&quot; will have to jump through a few hoops before their schools become reality.</p><p>Nine others had been approved in previous years to open this fall, but Elsey says not all are on track to do so. For example, the UNO Charter School Network, <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/23185796-452/sec-probes-uno-financing.html">which is dealing with an SEC investigation right now</a>, &nbsp;has two campuses that were approved in previous years, but are not yet open. CPS and UNO officials say they do not plan to open any new UNO schools this fall.&nbsp;</p><p>Still, the expansion of privately run, publicly funded charter schools may not slow down anytime soon.</p><p>After the board meeting, Elsey told WBEZ the district will open its next Request for Proposals sometime this spring, likely in March or April. He said the district wants to shift the timeline so that the board will vote on new schools in the fall, rather than January. That will give schools more time to plan for a September opening.</p></p> Wed, 22 Jan 2014 13:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558 State agency overrules CPS for charter funding http://www.wbez.org/news/state-agency-overrules-cps-charter-funding-109433 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS3523_board of ed-scr_2_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A little-known state agency backed by powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has overruled Chicago public school officials, ordering them to approve and fund two new charter schools in the city.</p><p>The schools are run by Concept Schools Inc. The Des Plaines-based organization operates 30 publicly financed privately-run schools in the Midwest, a majority of them in Ohio.</p><p>The Chicago Sun-Times <a href="http://bit.ly/1a3KHZF" target="_blank">reports</a> Concept is the first and only charter to benefit from the decision of the Illinois State Charter School Commission, founded in 2011 by Madigan. The two new schools will be located in the McKinley Park and Austin neighborhoods. They are getting 33 percent more funding per student than the city school system gives other charters.</p><p>Democratic state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia wants the state agency eliminated.</p></p> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 12:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-agency-overrules-cps-charter-funding-109433 Chicago Board of Ed: Downsized headquarters, supersized contract, and military school http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-board-ed-downsized-headquarters-supersized-contract-and-military-school-109410 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/board of ed (2).jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><strong><em>Chicago&rsquo;s school board approved a number of measures at the monthly board meeting Wednesday:</em></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>New district headquarters</strong></p><p dir="ltr">District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told board members that five years of cutbacks have shrunk the district&rsquo;s central office staff by 34 percent, and CPS is operating in more space than it needs.</p><p dir="ltr">Byrd-Bennett compared the need to downsize to the closing of 50 schools. &ldquo;Both the underutilization of schools and the underutilization of central office have stretched our limited resources. We could not continue to throw money after half-empty schools,&rdquo; she told board members. &ldquo;And likewise, we can no longer afford to support a half empty building here at 125 S. Clark.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Byrd Bennett said the district looked at 86 options and determined that moving around the corner to three floors on 1 N. Dearborn was the best one. A district press release says CPS will save $60 million over 15 years by moving.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Logistics contract triples</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The board also approved a significant increase in the amount it is paying to empty out Chicago&rsquo;s closed schools.</p><p dir="ltr">The original moving &nbsp;and logistics contract with Global Workplace Solutions, inked in April, was for $8.9 million. But <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-empty-out-closed-schools-doubles-109364">as WBEZ first reported</a>, the contract was quietly amended in September and increased to $18.9 million. The new contract could be for up to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/more-overruns-cost-empty-out-closed-chicago-schools-now-set-triple-109387">three times the original amount</a>&mdash;$30.9 million.</p><p dir="ltr">District officials say that despite the overruns on the logistics contract, the overall cost of closing a historic number of schools will remain within budget&mdash;$78 million this year, not including capital costs. (In addition to the logistics contract, the $78 million includes things like &ldquo;principal transition coordinators&rdquo; who were assigned to help ease the transition between closing and receiving schools and &ldquo;integration&rdquo; events for the consolidating schools.)</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been able to move things around&mdash;as we discovered&mdash;a little bit more here, &nbsp;a little bit less there, so it&rsquo;s gonna end up in balance,&rdquo; CPS school closings czar Tom Tyrrell explained to board members.</p><p dir="ltr">Tyrrell said there&rsquo;s an &ldquo;emerging requirement that is time sensitive&rdquo; to board up and secure more schools than the district initially thought would be necessary. He says the district is avoiding costs for new books and furniture by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicagos-closed-schools-109360">repurposing items from closed schools</a>, but that takes investment to inventory and sort items on the front end.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Ames Middle School&rsquo;s conversion to a military academy high school is approved</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In an unusual divided vote, the school board voted 5-2 to approve a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-lose-fight-keep-military-school-out-109044">controversial plan to change Ames middle school to a military academy</a> affiliated with the U.S. Marine Corps.</p><p dir="ltr">Alderman Roberto Maldonado was the plan&rsquo;s key backer, and he made his final case before board members at the meeting, saying he had worked to &ldquo;scientifically verify&rdquo;&mdash;with a telephone poll of 300 residents&mdash;that there was overwhelming support for his plan.</p><p dir="ltr">Ames Middle School is currently unpopular, he said, with just half of nearby kids electing to go there.</p><p dir="ltr">Maldonado presented himself as both a peace activist and a supporter of the military and military schools. He said he had protested the Viequez military base in Puerto Rico, and he promised that the new school would &ldquo;not be a training ground for sending our children to enlist in the military when they graduate.&rdquo; But he also brought fellow Alderman James Balcer&mdash;a Marine Corps vet&mdash;to speak in favor of the school. &ldquo;Sempre fidelis,&rdquo; Balcer said at the end of his statement.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Ames is a beautiful campus and it&rsquo;s perfect expanded into a high school for the kids of that community so that they will have an opportunity to go to college,&rdquo; said Maldonado. &ldquo;I want my kids&mdash;the children from my community that look like me, brown faces that look like me&mdash;to have an opportunity to go to college.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Ames parents begged the school board to listen to parents, not politicians. They said the alderman has disparaged Ames. One mother, Emma Segura, held a tape recorder up to the microphone and played a voicemail message:</p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1387483231-0" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Click to listen to the voicemail.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>&quot;Hello, the Chicago Public Schools recently sent a letter about moving your child to Ames Middle School, a gang infested school at Armitage and Hamlin, up to two miles away.</em></p></blockquote><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><em>They say your school is too crowded, so the only choice is to move your child to Ames, a gang-infested school where all students must go through a metal detector every morning. There&rsquo;s a public hearing Monday, April 15, at Schurz High School, at 5pm.</em></p></blockquote><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><em>This is the only chance to voice opposition to moving your child to gang-infested Ames Middle School, at Armitage and Hamlin, where all students must go through a metal detector every single morning. If you can attend this hearing, please press 7.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>If you&rsquo;d like someone to follow up with a phone call to give you more information, please press 8. Thank you.&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Maldonado&rsquo;s office denies any connection to that call.</p><p dir="ltr">The conversion of Ames will push some middle school kids to Kelvyn Park High School. Ames parents said that&rsquo;s no place for younger kids.</p><p dir="ltr">Board members Carlos Azcoitia and Mahalia Hines opposed Ames&rsquo; conversion to a military school.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Lincoln Elementary annex moves forward</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The board also approved an $18 million annex to Lincoln Elementary in Lincoln Park. The annex is controversial because it puts Lincoln, with well-heeled and politically connected parents, ahead of dozens of other schools that <a href="http://www.cps.edu/qualityschools/pages/data.aspx">by CPS&rsquo; own standards</a> are more overcrowded. Parents and community members who oppose the annex&mdash;because it snatches up part of the playground and calls for a much larger school, or because they believe other schools are needier &mdash;have argued the district could solve the overcrowding problem at Lincoln by adjusting the attendance boundaries of nearby schools.</p><p dir="ltr">Alderman Michele Smith told board members the need for the annex was &ldquo;indisputable,&rdquo; and that she was &ldquo;embarrassed and astounded&rdquo; by those who opposed it. &nbsp;Smith said redrawing boundaries would &ldquo;force students out of this outstanding school.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Board members regularly hear <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-21/news/ct-school-board-meets-met-1121-20131121_1_edwards-elementary-schools-ceo-barbara-byrd-bennett-lincoln-elementary">testimony from overcrowded schools</a> on the northwest and southwest sides, many surrounded by other schools in the same situation. Parents from those schools have argued that their children deserve an addition as much as kids from Lincoln Park.</p><p dir="ltr">Board president David Vitale said overcrowding was &ldquo;an issue that will continue to plague us.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The resources are in fact limited; the complexity of prioritizing is difficult,&rdquo; Vitale said in closing the meeting. &ldquo;But I have visited these schools, I visited Canty, I sat in that auditorium while kids ate their lunch. And there&rsquo;s nobody more than me that would like to solve their problem. But we need to go through a proper prioritization process and spend the resources we have in the best way possible.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The district&rsquo;s 10-year Master Facilities Plan, passed in September, was supposed to do that.</p><p dir="ltr">Vitale says he hopes for a clearer prioritization process by the time the district draws up its next capital budget, which will be within the next six months.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her on Twitter @WBEZeducation.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-board-ed-downsized-headquarters-supersized-contract-and-military-school-109410 No further budget cuts for schools that didn't attract enough students http://www.wbez.org/news/no-further-budget-cuts-schools-didnt-attract-enough-students-108748 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/web photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>UPDATED 9/25/13, 12:15pm: This story has been updated with new information from Chicago Public Schools. A prior version of this story understated the number of schools that were poised to lose funding. It also understated the total amount of money that schools could have lost had the district stayed with its original per-pupil plan. </em></p><p>Chicago is backing away from a plan that would have meant $45.7 million in additional budget cuts to schools.<br /><br />Of the 507 schools run by the school district, 308 were poised to lose additional funding because they did not enroll as many students as the district had projected they would. Under a new per-pupil budgeting system being implemented this year, Chicago is giving each school money based on how many students it enrolls. Parents and teachers across the city were bracing for more cuts, but district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced Monday CPS will give schools a one-year reprieve.<br /><br />&ldquo;Those schools that did not meet their enrollment projections, we&rsquo;re going to hold those schools harmless. They will receive the dollars that we assigned them based on the projected enrollment numbers,&rdquo; said Byrd-Bennett.<br /><br />Schools that surpassed their enrollment projections will get their per-pupil increase.<br /><br />Byrd-Bennett said overall enrollment numbers were down and that the district was also off on &ldquo;where children landed&rdquo;&mdash;a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/kids-start-school-without-teachers" target="_blank">chronic problem for Chicago</a>, especially at the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/chicago-needy-kids-lose-teachers%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%80%9Dagain-0" target="_blank">high school level</a>. She said there are &ldquo;social-cultural aspects of children coming to school&rdquo; that mean some students don&rsquo;t show up until well after the first day. She also said the district had a group of &ldquo;lost children&rdquo; who left eighth grade and have not entered high school.</p><p>The schools chief said the district would also back away from a plan to take an official enrollment count <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-09-08/news/ct-met-cps-enrollment-20130908_1_20th-day-enrollment-10th-day" target="_blank">on the 10th day of school</a>. Instead, Byrd-Bennett said the district will continue to use the date enrollment is historically checked, the 20th day. The district had said it wanted to nail down school budgets and <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/22361120-418/a-pivotal-cps-moment-schools-take-official-pupil-headcount-with-money-and-jobs-.html">make any necessary layoffs or staffing adjustments earlier this year</a>, but saw things were still in flux two weeks into the school year.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen [enrollment] increases since the 10th day, but they&rsquo;re not where we would have anticipated. And so rather than be punitive, we want to hold the schools harmless, let the schools move forward with opening their programs up, teaching their kids, getting the resources they need, and simultaneously using this year to better plan so we refine with greater precision the enrollment projections for next year,&rdquo; said Bryd-Bennett.<br /><br />The decision essentially means the district will be sending funding to local schools for students they don&rsquo;t have, and potentially for students who are not even in the school system. CPS isn&rsquo;t saying yet where that money will come from.</p><p>The district says it will release official enrollment figures for schools Tuesday.<br /><br />Those numbers will likely highlight high schools that are severely under-enrolled. They may also show that designated &ldquo;welcoming schools&rdquo; that got millions of dollars in capital and technology upgrades actually took in far fewer children from closing schools than the district had projected they would.<br /><br />Wendy Katten, cofounder of the parent group Raise Your Hand,&nbsp; said&nbsp; the announcement that schools will not be further cut doesn&rsquo;t make up for deep cuts already enacted.<br /><br />&ldquo;Yes, it is good news, but it&rsquo;s good news in the wake of horrible budget cuts,&rdquo; said Katten. She said her complaint isn&rsquo;t necessarily with student-based budgeting. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m worried about having a student-based budget dollar amount that&rsquo;s completely insufficient. We can&rsquo;t provide our students in the city with an excellent education when we&rsquo;re talking about $4,140 in a core allowance in student-based budgeting.&rdquo;<br /><br />School officials have argued that the new budgeting system, being adopted by big-city school districts across the country, is more fair and transparent, since dollars follow children to whichever type of school they attend&mdash;traditional or charter. The budgeting system also allows principals more autonomy in determining how to spend funds.<br /><br /><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Sep 2013 06:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/no-further-budget-cuts-schools-didnt-attract-enough-students-108748 Morning Shift: What food stamps buy http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-21/morning-shift-what-food-stamps-buy-107285 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Fish Spy 1_130520_LW_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>There may be changes on the way for how SNAP food assistance works. Plus conversations about spying on fish and closing Chicago schools.<script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/we-ll-help-you-buy-food-but.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/we-ll-help-you-buy-food-but" target="_blank">View the story "We'll help you buy food, but..." on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Tue, 21 May 2013 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-21/morning-shift-what-food-stamps-buy-107285 UNO charter school teachers unionize http://www.wbez.org/news/uno-charter-school-teachers-unionize-106943 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/untitled shoot-012.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Teachers and school staff at one of Chicago&rsquo;s largest charter school networks have voted to unionize.<br /><br />Eighty-seven percent of teachers at UNO charter schools signed union cards in the past weeks, according to both the union and the school. An independent arbitrator counted union cards Wednesday at UNO&rsquo;s high school on the Southwest Side.<br /><br />UNO immediately recognized the union. Some 415 teachers and school staff at 13 campuses are affected.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a big deal. It&rsquo;s May Day in Chicago and you can&rsquo;t think of a better labor story, can you?&rdquo; said Phil Mullins, longtime organizer and now chief strategy officer with the United Neighborhood Organization, a 29-year-old community organization focused on Latino empowerment that holds the charter for the schools.<br /><br />Also a big deal is the fact that UNO swung open its doors to the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, allowing the union access to teachers and the opportunity to organize openly in schools.<br /><br />Mullins says UNO has been in contact with union representatives for more than a year. He said the recent agreement to allow teachers to organize is not related to an ongoing investigation of UNO schools for potential misuse of a state construction grant.<br /><br />The idea behind charter schools, which are privately operated with public dollars, is that they would be free from most school district rules and regulations, and also labor agreements. Advocates say schools unhindered by teachers contracts can create student-centered school calendars and practices.<br /><br />The proportion of teachers represented by a union is falling precipitously in Chicago as the district closes union schools and opens charters. Chicago ACTS has made an organizing push into charters across the city.&nbsp; With the UNO vote, the size of the fledgling union more than doubles. Charter school teachers are not allowed to join the Chicago Teachers Union; Chicago ACTS is a sister union.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very, very high approval across all campuses. I think we had three campuses with 100 percent of the teachers saying yes, so it&rsquo;s overwhelming approval,&rdquo; said UNO-Garcia High technology teacher Alvin Colon. Colon says a union will be good for education at UNO.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think it will have great, positive impact. A number of my colleagues are passionate teachers. They want to continue improving at what they do. The union is going help solidify the team and make for considerably less turnover.&rdquo;<br /><br />Reached on his way to a union meeting, Colon said teachers were motivated to bring in the union because they want a say in things like their evaluations, which he called &ldquo;unfair.&rdquo; He described aspects of a new incentive pay program as &ldquo;unrealistic.&rdquo;<br /><br />Colon says what makes a charter school a charter school is not whether the teachers are unionized, but the element of parental choice involved, the fact that students can choose the school in lieu of a neighborhood school they&rsquo;re assigned to.<br /><br />Mullins of UNO says something similar: &ldquo;Our schools when established were never established with the idea that a labor agreement&mdash;or the absence of a labor agreement&mdash;was a critical part of what makes our schools work. We don&rsquo;t think organized labor is the critical variable in whether schools are successful or not. It has more to do with mission and a vibrant relationship with the community that makes that difference.&ldquo;<br /><br />UNO has come under attack from opponents of charter schools, including the Chicago Teachers Union, and the heat has intensified in recent weeks amidst reports that UNO improperly handed contracts to insiders. It&rsquo;s unclear how the unionization vote will affect the attacks leveled at UNO going forward.<br /><br />The unionization vote attracted national attention. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said in a statement that UNO represents a &ldquo;turning point&rdquo; and &ldquo;an example of another charter school operator recognizing that it can&rsquo;t succeed without the voices of those who work most closely with students.&rdquo;<br /><br />President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers Dan Montgomery says the vote to unionize sends another message.<br /><br />&ldquo;If people think that somehow charters are a path to getting around teachers unions or getting away from teachers unions, I think that puts the lie to that.&rdquo; Montgomery also said when employers make clear they are willing to let workers unionize, nearly all will choose to do so.</p><p><em>Linda Lutton covers education for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZEducation" target="_blank">@WBEZEducation</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 02 May 2013 07:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/uno-charter-school-teachers-unionize-106943 Parents at school slated for turnaround chase away CPS inventory team http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-school-slated-turnaround-chase-away-cps-inventory-team-106833 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP452077110491 (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The proposal to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202">close 54 Chicago public schools and completely re-staff 6 others</a> has parents and school officials on edge.</p><p dir="ltr">That was evident at Dewey Elementary school yesterday. When parent Matthew Johnson got there in the afternoon, he says he saw a slew of unfamiliar people outside.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Thirty-two Caucasians, at the basketball court, in a group, huddled,&rdquo; Johnson said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;d think [it was] the police&mdash;I thought somebody got shot on the basketball court. But they were coming in to do inventory.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">CPS is paying <a href="http://www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/4_3_2013_PR2.aspx">a logistics firm</a> $14.2 million to inventory everything from student records to textbooks in all schools set to be closed, turned around, or &ldquo;co-located&rdquo; with other schools. &nbsp;Johnson, who opposes the turnaround, said Dewey students have been told for two days they aren&rsquo;t allowed to take home textbooks for homework because they&rsquo;re being inventoried.</p><p dir="ltr">The school district&rsquo;s proposal calls for management of Dewey to be turned over to the private nonprofit Academy for Urban School Leadership, which currently manages 25 schools in Chicago. Dewey is among six schools the district has proposed re-staffing and turning over to AUSL at the end of this school year.</p><p dir="ltr">But seeing people inventory the school&rsquo;s assets before Chicago&rsquo;s board of education officially votes to turn Dewey around didn&rsquo;t sit right with Johnson, who chairs the local school council.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When I saw them out there, I called parents and I asked, &lsquo;How many are willing to stay in the school with me?&rsquo; &nbsp;And we said, &lsquo;We ain&rsquo;t leaving this building until they leave.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Rumors began to fly that Dewey School was being occupied. By evening, the inventory team was long gone, and most parents had gone home. But the head of CPS security was at the school. So were teachers union organizers, state Rep. Esther Golar, and 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s especially troubling to me because the vote hasn&rsquo;t even been taken yet,&rdquo; Dowell said. &ldquo;The decision hasn&rsquo;t been finally made.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Dowell says she put a call out as soon as she heard about Dewey.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I spoke to Barbara Byrd-Bennett this afternoon, after I found out that the transition team was in Dewey,&rdquo; Dowell said. &ldquo;[Byrd-Bennett] acknowledges that this is, in her words, unconscionable, and that these individuals from CPS should not be in the school now, disrupting the education of young people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Dowell opposes handing Dewey over to AUSL. She wants CPS to figure out how to improve the school with existing staff. Johnson says the principal and many teachers are new, and the school is on an upswing.</p><p dir="ltr">Last year another school slated for turnaround, Piccolo, was briefly taken over by protesters. CPS gave principals <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/leaked-memo-tells-principals-keep-eye-school-closings-protesters-106301">a guide</a> this year with instructions on what to do if their schools are &ldquo;occupied.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">CPS says it has been conducting inventories in schools slated for closure, turnaround or co-location for the past two weeks. A spokeswoman said in an email that nothing is being removed from schools, and that schools are only inventoried after regular hours. She said if the turnaround is not approved, Dewey school will still have a good accounting of all its assets.</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a></em></p></p> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 09:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-school-slated-turnaround-chase-away-cps-inventory-team-106833 Chicago Teachers Union vows to make school closings political http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-vows-make-school-closings-political-106661 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS6345_AP765841686009-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Angry over school <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202" target="_blank">a proposal</a> that would close down an unprecedented number of schools, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis Monday vowed to launch a &ldquo;comprehensive and aggressive political action campaign&rdquo; with the ultimate goal of defeating Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other local elected officials supportive of school closings.<br /><br />&ldquo;If the mayor and his hand-picked corporate school board will not listen to us, we must find those who will,&rdquo; Lewis said.<br /><br />Lewis said union members would continue to oppose the closings through hearings and protests &ldquo;until the board rubber stamps this plan on May 22, and on May 23 we&rsquo;re going right back in the streets.&rdquo;<br /><br />The union says it wants to put a minimum of 100,000 new voters on Chicago&rsquo;s rolls. Lewis says union organizers will go door to door in neighborhoods where schools are closing and where teachers are losing jobs &ldquo;due to this administration.&rdquo;<br /><br />The union also plans to increase donations to its political action committee and vet potential candidates.<br /><br />Lewis called the dozens of public hearings being held by the district&nbsp; &ldquo;most likely sham events&rdquo; and said they&rsquo;re &ldquo;designed to provide therapy to people impacted by their decisions.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;<br />The union released an analysis today &mdash; Lewis referred to it as an &ldquo;autopsy&rdquo; &mdash; of Guggenheim Elementary, which was closed last year.<br /><br />The union says Guggenheim was neglected, with overcrowded classrooms and just two working computers in the library. Advocates say once the proposal to shut down the school was announced, the principal improperly tried to push homeless children to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/parents-school-slated-closure-tried-move-students-out" target="_blank">transfer</a>. Once Guggenheim was closed, only 37 percent of students went to the designated CPS receiving school. Catalyst-Chicago has <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/2013/04/03/20943/losing-track" target="_blank">reported</a> that CPS has lost track of 23 Guggenheim kids, and cannot say where they ended up.</p><p>The union says other schools live in fear of being shut down. It says the district had trouble closing four schools last year, now it&rsquo;s trying to close 54.<br /><br />Chicago Public Schools spokesman Dave Miranda says the district is taking a new approach this year.</p><p>&ldquo;Unlike in the past, CPS will work aggressively and proactively to reach parents at all sending schools to encourage them to enroll their children in their dedicated higher-performing welcoming schools,&quot; he said. &quot;We want to ensure that students can benefit from the additional investments that will be made in welcoming schools for the fall.&rdquo;<br /><br />A spokeswoman for the mayor said this is &quot;simply not the time for politics.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Barbara Byrd-Bennett has proposed a plan for Chicago Public Schools, with Mayor Emanuel&#39;s support, that finally puts our children first,&quot; the spokeswoman said.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-vows-make-school-closings-political-106661 App will help parents, kids map routes to new schools http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/app-will-help-parents-kids-map-routes-new-schools-106278 <p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><a href="http://cps.go2school.org/" target="_blank"><img alt="Go to School!" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Go%20to%20School%21.png" style="border-width: 3px; border-style: solid; height: 508px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="cps.go2school.org/" /></a><strong>&#39;ATTENDING A NEW SCHOOL COULD BE A DANGEROUS PROSPECT.&#39; </strong>As Chicago prepares for its largest-ever round of school closings, Tom Kompare, a member of Chicago&#39;s vibrant <a href="http://www.meetup.com/OpenGovChicago/" target="_blank">Open Government Chicago</a> programming movement, has created a new Web application called <strong>&quot;Go to School!&quot;</strong>&nbsp;-- to help families across Chicago gauge &quot;their travel options.&quot; That includes, as he explains in an email to the group, &quot;locations of police stations, fire stations, and hospitals.&quot;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">He says&nbsp;it started out as a selfish exercise: &quot;I sometimes get to work from home and get to pick up my daughter after school. I need to hop on the L do so, and was wondering when I had to leave in order to get there on time.&quot;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">The app&#39;s up and running now, with maps showing which schools are closing or relocating. By this fall, he expects to add so-called &quot;safe haven&quot; businesses and crossing guard locations. It works on smartphones or desktop browsers. Check it out at <a href="http://cps.go2school.org/" target="_blank">cps.go2school.org</a>.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Meanwhile, Kompare is making <a href="https://github.com/tkompare/go2school" target="_blank">the source code available here</a> to anyone who wants to adapt it for use by other school districts.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">* <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/25/cps-school-closing-fight-_n_2950921.html" target="_blank">Student protests escalate</a>, along with fear over violence.<br />* Chicago putting <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-chicago-police-foot-patrols,0,7096814.story" target="_blank">more cops on foot patrol</a> along dangerous blocks.</span></p><hr /><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 18px;"><em><span style="color: rgb(128, 0, 0);">Suggestions for this blog?&nbsp;</span><a href="mailto:cmeyerson@wbez.org?subject=Things%20and%20stuff">Email anytime</a>.</em></span></span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>A MILLIONAIRE AT 17.</strong>&nbsp;British teenager&nbsp;Nick D&rsquo;Aloisio has sold his news-reading app, <a href="http://summly.com/" target="_blank">Summly</a>, to Yahoo for a figure <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/business/media/nick-daloisio-17-sells-summly-app-to-yahoo.html?_r=0" target="_blank">reportedly in the tens of millions of dollars</a>. And how was your Monday?<br />* <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/spotify-plans-to-take-on-netflix-and-hbo-with-streaming-video-service-2013-3?op=1" target="_blank">Spotify targets Netflix, HBO</a> with streaming video, including original content.<br />* <a href="http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2013/03/25/facebook-improves-its-commenting-system-bringing-threaded-comments-and-replies-at-last/" target="_blank">Facebook finally adds &quot;Reply&quot; option</a> to comments.<br />* Facebook founder Zuckerberg creates <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/facebooks-zuckerberg-push-immigration-reform" target="_blank">organization to promote immigration reform</a>.<br />* Mayor Bloomberg seems to suggest <a href="http://politicker.com/2013/03/did-mayor-bloomberg-warn-rupert-murdoch-to-stop-twittering/" target="_blank">Rupert Murdoch stay off Twitter</a>.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>&#39;HI, IN THE PAST 2 YEARS, YOU HAVE ALLOWED ME TO KILL 70,000 PEOPLE.&#39;</strong>&nbsp;<em>The Onion&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.theonion.com/articles/hi-in-the-past-2-years-you-have-allowed-me-to-kill,31805/" target="_blank">makes fun of&nbsp;Syria&#39;s president,&nbsp;Bashar al-Assad</a>. Or is it making fun of everyone else?<br />*&nbsp;<a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-un-syria-20130325,0,6661725.story" target="_blank">UN pulls staff out of Syria</a> because of deteriorating conditions.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>NFLer OUT OF THE CLOSET?</strong>&nbsp;CBS Sports reports <a href="http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/mike-freeman/21946093/some-believe-atmosphere-is-safe-for-gay-nfl-player-to-come-out" target="_blank">a current NFL player is considering coming out publicly</a>. His main concern, the report says, is that <a href="http://deadspin.com/report-a-gay-nfl-player-is-strongly-considering-comi-458750903" target="_blank">he&#39;ll be in jeopardy from homophobic fans</a>.</span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong></em><br /><em>* Get this blog by email, free. <a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank">Sign up here</a>.</em><br /><em>* Follow us on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbez" target="_blank">@WBEZ</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/meyerson" target="_blank">@Meyerson</a>.<br />* Looking for the most recent WBEZ Meyerson News Quiz? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/news-quiz" target="_blank">Here you go</a>.</em></span></p></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/app-will-help-parents-kids-map-routes-new-schools-106278